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Old 08-09-04, 10:54 AM   #1
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Touring Bike for Commuting

ovI am looking for a new touring bike, which I may use for some extended rides but mostly for commuting. I want steel because I like the ride and because of its strength (I am over 250, sad to say, and will be carrying work stuff). I want wider wheels to deal with potholes, etc. Lastly, I like high handlebar height, so would prefer a threaded stem if possible. I am replacing a 15 year-old Panasonic tourer, which has been a great bike but the frame size was never quite right. Posts on this forum have been helpful, but I'd be grateful for thoughts and recommendations as to what to get. Here are my thoughts based on what I've seen so far:

Bianchi Volpe -- Solid bike, but componentry isn't as good as my presentt bike, and it was noticeable on a test drive. I suspect I'd spend more upgrading than I'd save by buying it.

Fuji Touring -- Same as Bianchi Volpe: test drive didn't inspire great confidence. At least has a threaded headset.

Fuji World -- A new Fuji touring bike w/ Reynolds 853 frame, carbon fork and good components. Maybe more bike than I need at $1500, but intriguing. I wonder if the frame will be sturdy enough for my weight. Can't find one anywhere, so comments here are especially welcome.

Trek 520 -- Though this is the standard, I can't even find this in my medium-size city. Good components, it seems (though I'm not wild about linear pull brakes) Frame comes in inch inrements, like my Panasonic. With that, the 23 inch was too small, the 25 too large. So I am wary of it. Also, low handlebar placement.

Heron -- Maybe beyond my price point with the frame and headset at $1000-1300, but they look very, very nice. They seem as nice as the Rivendells. Anyone have experience with these bikes.

Suly Long-Haul Trucker -- Good price point and I can build from the frame as I want, but I note that even their steel frames have only a 2 year warranty. Worries me.

Rivendell Atlantis -- Clearly beyond my price point, but I can drool. Anyone want to persuade me it is worthwile?

Yes I know it is all personal preference, but the views of others help -- especially since it is so hard to find these bikes for test drives. At least around here, the bike shops require full commitment to buy if they place an order.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-09-04, 11:38 AM   #2
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I think your best bet is to buy a frame and build your own like the Surly you mentioned.
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Old 08-10-04, 08:34 PM   #3
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Sounds like your at least doing some serious reserch. My only experience is my older (94) Trek 520, and am disappointed with thier race bike style of late with the low threadless headset & the like. One note; Trek used to messure thier frames different than everyone else, from the center of the bottom bracket to the bottom of the top tube if I recall it right. So the frame numbers might not match other makers. As far as carbon forks go I'd leave them alone because of poor ride quality. Maybe yoou can find something on E-bay once you decide.

I'm droolin' at the Rivendell bikes with ya!
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Old 08-10-04, 09:32 PM   #4
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I think the Fixer has just issued a challenge

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Old 08-10-04, 11:03 PM   #5
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I had the same problem recently. I liked the Volpe, but didn't like the componentry. I also read that the stays have gotten shorter over the last few years, and since I have big feet, that was a real concern. So I browsed eBay periodically until I found a 1999 Volpe in my size up for auction. Got it for $360. Took the Shimano RSX components (I think) off and put on Shimano 105 gear. Except for the cantilever brakes. Sold the RSX parts for $120 or so. My 105 gruppo set me back $400. I now have a nice Volpe with 105 components (triple) for $640. I put Planet Bike Freddy Fenders and a Performance Trans-It rack on. Looking for panniers now, but I'll probably hold off on those for a few months. I am a happy biker.
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Old 08-11-04, 12:05 AM   #6
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The Trek 520 uses a relatively short top tube, so unless you find it difficult to straddle a bike with a high top tube, there is no problem in sizing the bike the traditional way, i.e. with 1/2 to 1" space between the top tube and your crotch.
Check how high the handlebars come with spacers underneath and a stem with a lot of rise.
An other option would be to look for an older model. I have a 2000 one (not for sale) which has a threaded headset. With fenders, I can use 700x37 (maybe up to 45) on the rear wheel and 700x35 on the front one.

Amongst the other bikes, I tend to favour the Heron Touring (I think it now has a new name) over the Rivendell. Looks a bit less passé, and it has a fork drilled for a lowrider rack. The Heron accepts 700x37 on both wheels, but I'm not sure if that's with fenders at the same time.

Another bike to look at is the Bruce Gordon. Definitely a more modern design with a sloping top tube, but according to those who have one, it's a good touring bike and a good commuter too. And you can get really big tires (700x47, I think, although probably one notch smaller with fenders).
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Old 08-16-04, 04:55 PM   #7
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This probably isn't going to help much but I have been using my Dawes Super Galaxy for commuting over the past 7 years (12 miles each way).

For commuting I use 700x25c tyres,
For touring I use 700x28c tyres

thats the only difference
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Old 08-18-04, 09:25 AM   #8
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I can't imagine wanting to tour on anything smaller than a 700x35. Rough ride.

I've been commuting all summer on my 520 and it's been fantastic.
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Old 09-04-04, 03:17 PM   #9
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I have little to no real life experience in the areas to which you speak, however, I have been researching the same topic. What I'll write below will speak more towards the commuter side of your commuter/touring interests.
Take a look at the following bikes- I found each to be interesting:

1) Burley Runabout - Google will help you find info on this bike.

2) Trek X500 for 2005 and currently the Trek X600 (neither has a seel frame) I've looked for info on this bike and there seems to be none- Trek's web site is the only source I've found.

3) Thorn Raven frame set from Harris Cyclery. The complete bike is very expensive, but the frames are suppose to be quite reasonable.

The Burley and X500 I believe retail for $1050 each. Both will also be very hard to test ride. Stores that carry the Burley seem to be few and far between and according to the local Trek dealer, an X500 is the least popular bike in N. America. The X500 can be ordered but he will not stock the bike. I assume other Trek dealer have a similar view even if they arent as blunt.

Other informational sites:

Good Luck

PS- I've decided to put a few $ into my old 1983 Miyata 1000LT- If I stick with commuting/touring or bust the frame I'll treat myself to an upgrade.
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Old 09-04-04, 04:37 PM   #10
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see if you can find a Gunnar Sport to test ride. It's a fun bike to ride.

If you need to keep within a budget, the LHT is worth considering.
Most people (including me) spend a few bikes on a bike. They like it,ride it, then need something a little better, rinse, lather, repeat. That can get expensive, too.Try as many as you can find, pick the one you like best. I drove over a hundred miles to try bikes last time I was looking.
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Old 09-04-04, 05:04 PM   #11
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I second the Trek, get the 23" and when you order, tell them not to cut the steerer tube, Then you can place spacers until you find the right height. You didn't mention your height, and Treks top tube is 21.9" on the 21" size, and 22.3" on the 23".
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Old 09-04-04, 05:56 PM   #12
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Seeing that my wife and me each own and ride the Rivendell Atlantis I'll chime in on their worthiness...

1. Adaptable... wide clearance for anything from a "Go-Fast" tire to an "Off-Road" tire, and all with fenders.

2. Just about the best, most comfy geometry out there. My 520 (the one I sold) didn't come close to the comfort of the Atlantis.

3. Lugged... pretty & classic(in my book at least).

4. Purchasing one helps out the "small guy" which is always a good thing and even a better thing when their product is a lot better than what the huge corporations spit out.

5. Sure it's more expensive BUT truth be told it's less expensive when you consider 2 things...

a) You'll probably never look to replace it which does happen much more often with 'lesser' cycles.

b) It has a very nice resale value if, by chance, you do decide to upgrade to a custom (which is about the only place left to upgrade to when you own an Atlantis).
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